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Customs and Registration in Dubai

When you settle in Dubai, you’ll experience a global city with an international workforce. If you take the right steps, your move to Dubai will be a walk in the park! Our InterNations Expat Guide on Dubai briefs you on your way to the Persian Gulf, with info on visas, permits, transportation, and more.
More than 18 million passengers pass through Dubai International Airport quarterly.

National Identity Card

The National Identity Card (NIC) was introduced in 2006. With its advanced ID features, it should soon replace labor cards, passports, and other forms of identification for Emiratis and expats in Dubai. When the card was first introduced, registration was only possible for Emiratis and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) citizens in the UAE. Now registration is also open to immigrant workers and expatriates.

As of September 2010, it is also mandatory for children of 15 years and above to register for a National Identity Card. The Emirates ID Card is now directly linked to a residence visa application, making the whole process a lot simpler for expats. To register for a National Identity Card, you have to take the following steps:

  1. Visit one of the many authorized typing centers and complete the e-form. After that, you have to pay the administrative fees for registration and service.
  2. You will then receive a text message with the date and place to have your photograph and fingerprints taken.
  3. Go to the EIDA service mentioned in your text message, and do not forget to bring your passport.
  4. Have your photograph, your biometric information and your fingerprints taken.
  5. You will receive your National Identity Card in the mail.

Entering through Dubai's Airport

Expats moving to Dubai will enjoy the advantages of the Middle East’s travel hub, too. With two international harbors, two international airports and its own airline, Dubai is a popular destination for expats and tourists alike. Dubai International Airport caters to the needs of over 60 million passengers per year. Here, more than 130 airlines connect over 200 destinations.

If you want to make your arrival easier, you can book the Marhaba service for a faster progress through the passport controls at the airport. For a small fee, an airport employee will meet you upon arrival to walk you through the controls, take you to the baggage claim area and help you with ground control.

Customs Regulations

Expats and visitors to Dubai need to be aware of current customs regulations before they enter the country.

Certain items, such as all kinds of narcotic drugs, are prohibited. The same applies to certain kinds of medication. If you regularly need to take a certain type of prescription medicine, make sure to bring a prescription or a medical certificate from a UAE-licensed practitioner. You should not import more than a personal supply to see you through for a period of three months.

Other prohibited items might include:

  • poppy seeds, qat leaf, betel leaf or nuts, niswar (a kind of chewing tobacco) and gutkha (an Indian preparation of chewing tobacco and betel nuts)
  • pornographic material
  • non-Islamic religious pamphlets
  • fireworks
  • ivory and rhinoceros horn
  • endangered animal species
  • weapons and ammunition
  • chemical and organic fertilizers
  • gambling tools
  • any objects that do not adhere to the religious and moral values of the UAE


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Peter B. Krehmer

"There are so many expats in the UAE, but the InterNations Dubai Ramadan dinners brought some wonderful guests together. "

Suzanne Payne

"Dubai is such an overwhelming mixture of tradition and modernity that I was very grateful for all the support from other expats. "

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